on 12 January 2010
I'm too young to remember the episode actually being on - far too young, in fact - but watching the video, I agree with most fans. The Talons of Weng Chiang is one of THE best Doctor Who stories EVER, EVER, EVER, rivalled only, perhaps, by 'The Pyramids of Mars' and 'Blink'. This is partly because of its main side characters, intellectual police doctor Professor Litefoot and bluff-and-bluster theatre man Henry Gordon Jago. It's long been my opinion, akin to many other fans, that the two lovable Victorian gentlemen deserve their own spin off series, and now they've very nearly got it with this one-off Big Finish audio drama. It's a one off in Companion Chronicles terms in that the Doctor doesn't appear and it's dealing with one off companions - Litefoot and Jago never actually entered the TARDIS, let alone travelled on it, but their experiences the Talons of Weng Chiang more than make up for the fact.
The format of the Companion Chronicles is, of course, that an old companion of the Doctor's returns to recount a story, with one other actor. This story takes place in a pub, where Litefoot and Jago, who have been teaming up to investigate unusual happenings since their encounter with the fourth Doctor and Leela, have met up to discuss their latest adventure. It's a creepy one. The idea of a body being dragged out of Thames is always a good beginning in any Victorian mystery, and it gets creepier from there. The body is actually a cleverly disguised wooden mannequin, and what happens next is very much a la ghost story writer M.R. James. It just gets creepier from there. Be prepared for a gruesome description in the middle of part two. In my opinion it was rather overdone (I thought I was going to see my dinner again). Enough said. Despite this, it's a very good story, and no doubt the characters help with that. Their rather quirky attitude helps the story not to fall out of creepy and into terrifying. For me, the concept certainly pushed it. It's interesting to note the mythology in this one. It could almost be taken as a prequel to the 1960s story Invasion. I won't go on. I might give too much away. Anyway, it's a ripping good yarn, if a bit sinister. Andy Lane writes excellent descriptions, and carries out the task of portraying the characters of Litefoot and Jago admirably. I'm so glad that this story has led to Litefoot and Jago getting their well deserved spin off series at last, albeit on audio. In short, well worth a listen, but not for the faint of heart.
on 20 June 2011
Jago & Litefoot appeared of course in the classic Tom Baker adventure "The Talons of Weng Chiang" & author Robert Holmes thiought there was a spin-off in the characters. It's believed this was discussed as a possibility but never got as far as scripts being written.
Well we've got it now and although this 1st story is officially part of the Companion Chronicles series, it serves pretty well as a pilot, there's even a potential recurring enemy thrown in!
In a script clearly written for the audio medium Jago and Litefoot meet in a London pub to compare notes on their linked but separate adventures investigating mannequins that come to life and how they are linked with executed felons apparently returned to life. This is a fun structure as the pair put the story together and try to dramatically top each other's tales of horror. Living mannequins are a nicely Holmesian idea recalling both the Autons and Mr Sin from Talons. Talons is also recalled in a couple of brief references too.
Christopher Benjamin is a little gruffer vocally than he was when he was in Talons but still recaptures the character of this hyperbole spouting, self promoting showman, who exaggerates & isn't "So bally brave" when it comes to it but remains a good guy underneath.
Trevor Baxter who is much closer to his younger voice also effortlessly recaptures the character of Professor Litefoot, a mixture of Sherlock and Watson. The character interplay is marvellous and can only bode well for the later adventures.
There's also fun to be had as Litefoot "plays the roles" of the ruffians he meets when recounting his story, only to get poor reviews from Jago.
A minor character Ellie the barmaid is played by Lisa Bowerman and I believe returns in the series.
There's also an interview section after the story.
For anyone who enjoyed Talons of Weng Chiang, I recommend this highly.
on 5 June 2015
Very enjoyable, with fruity, larger than life performances from the venerable thesps playing the sleuthing duo!
It's quite gruesome, and owes more to Horror/Sherlock Holmes than to Sci-Fi.
Apparently it was made as a dummy-run try-out with a view to Jago & Litefoot getting their own audio series.
Which they subsequently did, and you can see why.
My problem now is being able to afford all the boxed sets Big Finish has produced with these characters - 9 so far and no sign of them stopping. And each is about £40 unless you shop around.
Worth bearing in mind if your budget is limited, as I can tell these two could become highly addictive.
on 15 November 2015
A prototype for the 'Jago & Litefoot' series, framed with the narration of the two characters in the form of a fireside chat in the Red Tavern. The titular characters are reunited and regal each other with their recent escapades, while discovering they haven't been so far apart after all. Trevor Baxter and Christopher Benjamin are the single most important factor in the success of these characters and their interplay is full of charm and familiarity. There is a tight, fluid plot and the story is packed with plenty of vivid detail and Gothic imagery. This is one of those occasions where it just couldn't be any better.
on 12 December 2009
A most marvellous medley of magical meanderings, this story is one of the best bits of Doctor Who nostalgia this millennium. A simple story told from two perspectives; the exaggerated and colourful versus the purposeful and scientific, with great music enhancing the Victoriana feel.
These two unlikely characters just beg a whole series of companion chronicles to themselves.
on 4 March 2011
Two victorian old boys tell a great story down the pub. Mahogany Murderers quickly takes you into the action but holds you throughout, with a well paced atmospheric story, with a dramitic ending but leaving plenty of room to carry the story on.